The Prime Minister returned to the Commons today to update Parliament on her meeting with the other heads of Government of all EU nations last week.
This gave me another chance to ask the PM if she could guarantee that we will remain a member of EUROPOL when we leave the EU. As you would have heard from me before, we must remain a part of EUROPOL so that we can share intelligence and bring people to justice when run away from the UK.
The PM couldn’t guarantee this saying only that she hoped we would have a security partnership: meaningless words that do nothing to secure our streets. For a former Home Secretary I find the PMs actions in negotiating our security deeply concerning.
March 2019 is when we leave the EU. We only have 8 months left and the Government can still not provide the public with details on our security arrangements after Brexit.
EUROPOL and the European Arrest Warrant are key in protecting us. It allows our police to share intelligence with other EU nations and ensures that any criminal that has fled the UK after committing an offence can be brought back to face justice.
You would expect these two factors alone make the UK Government put our relationship with international security bodies front and centre of our negotiations. You would have thought that they would have a position by now. But no. Instead we have a government desperately fighting internal battles for supremacy on Brexit. They are not thinking with the interests of the country in mind only that of their party.
As a former policing and securities minister I can tell you how valuable our cooperation is with EU countries in tackling crime. Losing out on EUROPOL and the European Arrest Warrant will hinder the police’s ability to keep our streets safe.
Yet again I asked the Home Office minister if we will remain a member of EUROPOL next April or if we would have to recruit to replace the lost expertise and workforce.
The minister talks about hopes and desires to secure a similar relationship. Let’s be clear: EUROPOL is vital for our national security. We are the second biggest contributor to it and a sizeable number of its policies originate from UK policing standards.
The outgoing Welsh born director of EUROPOL, Rob Wainwright, has already signalled his fear of our loss of influence if we leave the organisation and I agree with him. We need to maintain strong cooperation with our European allies and losing EUROPOL is a surefire way to hasten this demise.
The ability to track down those who have committed crimes and terrorist atrocities in Northern Ireland, who may very well be in the Republic of Ireland, is dependent on the police and security forces having access to EUROPOL and the European Arrest Warrant.
If we lose access to these important tools following Brexit we could see our police and security forces hampered in bringing about justice. The Secretary of State was able to praise the current work of all police forces on the island of Ireland, but failed to say if we will maintain our partnership in EUROPOL and the European Arrest Warrant.